Famous for its nightlife, its leftist politics, and its huge Turkish immigrant population, Kreuzberg – once a part of West Berlin – has always been known as a melting pot of immigrants, fringe groups, and members of the alternative scene.
Now in a unified Berlin, the neighborhood finds itself situated near Berlin’s geographic center and is home to a bevy of new restaurants, cocktail bars, and clubs.
Luckily, however, Kreuzberg has managed to maintain its culture, alternative flair, and low prices, and offers a host of ethnic eateries, easygoing bars, and plenty of clubs for all-night dancing.
Oranienstrasse, which runs through Heinrichplatz and down to Wiener Strasse, is the center of Kreuzberg’s nightlife where the streets are lined with pre-party bars and a wealth of rock, punk, and indie live music venues that attract hordes of offbeat but friendly denizens of the neighborhood.
Neukölln to the south touts a similar demographic, though it has yet to witness the same level of gentrification as Kreuzberg, and unemployment rates for residents are high. It’s also the largest borough in Berlin, with vast industrial stretches to the south that offer little in the way of nightlife.
That said, rising rents in recent years highlight an influx of students, artists, and bourgeois bohemians, and it’s probably the best place in town to discover a true Berlin dive. Visitors will also find plenty of wholly original cafés with a strong artistic focus, as well as funky clubs with cheap drinks to go with their ramshackle décor.
It’s undeniably gritty, but there are many true gems hidden beneath the less-than-esthetic surface, and adventurous sorts will probably end up dining on sustainable fare, sipping great cocktails, and talking politics with intellectual locals outfitted with piercings in places most people never thought possible.
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